The Bianchi Infinito CV Disc boasts an excellent frame which seems to float over rough British roads, but is far too heavy for such an expensive bike.
There’s little doubt that stage five of the 2014 Tour de France was one of the most brutal of the race. Rain, mud, wind and cobbles ripped the field to pieces and took Chris Froome out of the race, but at the end of it all a filthy Lars Boom emerged to take a famous victory.
His steed for this epic ride: the Bianchi Infinito CV.
However for a Tour de France stage winner, this is no thoroughbred racer, designed instead for the rider who wants to put in the big miles in comfort, even over the roughest of roads. And let’s face it, roads don’t come much rougher than the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix…
The headline-grabbing part of the Bianchi Infinito CV is undoubtedly the frame. Integrated into the full carbon frame is Bianchi’s patented CounterVail Vibration Cancelling Composite Technology. This material, which has apparently been “proven in the extreme conditions of NASA aerospace operations”, promises to not only cancel vibration while increasing the strength and stiffness of the frame.
Bianchi claims that the frame reduces vibration by an impressive 75%, meaning a significant decrease in muscle fatigue over long distance rides, as well as improved control and handling, producing this video to show the material’s vibration-dampening credentials.
Admittedly we were a little skeptical at first, and instinctively recalled the various suspension road bikes which companies developed in an attempt to tame the cobbles in the 1990s . However thankfully the 2015 bike was a million miles away from these space hoppers with wheels.
On rough roads, the Bianchi Infinito CV certainly lived up to the hype. On typical bumpy British road the ride was simply superb, almost completely eliminating the typical road buzz associated with the bargain-basement surfaces thrown down by local councils.
Of course no amount of fancy carbon technology can protect you from some of the craters which appear on our roads each winter, and we certainly didn’t go looking for potholes when testing the Bianchi, but the CounterVail technology is probably the best solutions we’ve experienced for taking the sting out of bad roads.
What makes the vibration-cancelling technology even more impressive is the fact that there is only a slight compromise when it comes to stiffness. Putting down the power through the beefy bottom bracket and you certainly feel like every watt is transformed into forward motion, especially when up to speed on flat roads.
However performance is not as good when climbing steep hills or accelerating on the flat. The reason for this: the weight. Our 55cm frame built with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Shimano BR-R785 hydraulic discs hit the scales at a hefty 8.2 kg (without pedals), incredibly heavy for a bike which will set most people back a couple of months’ wages.
Compared to other top-end endurance bikes, there’s no avoiding the fact that this is on the heavy-side, with the similarly spec’d Giant Advanced Pro 0 and Cannondale Synapse Carbon both hitting the scales at less than 8kg for comparable size frame, and both significantly cheaper.
The extra bulk was almost unnoticeable and may even have been an advantage once we’d built up momentum on flat roads, but the Bianchi Infinito CV was a bit of a burden when climbing steep hills, and took a good few turns of the pedals to get up to full speed when opening up a sprint, even if once you reached terminal velocity you had no problem staying there.
The CounterVail technology is the same across the Bianchi Infinito CV range, although our disc brake-equipped obviously required some alterations to the fork and seatstays. The fairly relaxed geometry makes it obvious that this bike is aimed squarely at the sportive rider, with the tall 170mm head tube that came on our 55cm test bike giving an upright riding position.
The combination of this relaxed geometry and the vibration-cancelling technology makes for a superbly comfortable bike which helped us eat up the weekend miles as we got our winter training underway in mid-November.
Apart from the frame, the other eye-catching parts of the Bianchi Infinito CV Disc are the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes . These are the first generation of Shimano’s disc brakes, and, in a manner reminiscent of the original bulbous Ultegra Di2 rear derailleur, the hydraulics mean the brake hoods have gained a bulk.
Performance-wise there’s no arguing that the hydraulic brakes are superb. Speed disappeared from the moment you squeezed the lever and there was no change in braking ability between dry and wet conditions, as is the case with rim brakes. Compared to mechanical disc brakes there was not so much of a step up in performance to the hydraulic discs apart from under very heavy braking loads.
However this braking performance comes at a major weight penalty, with various parts of the hydraulic braking system adding up to half a kilogram of extra weight over a standard rim brake set up, and it is this along with the less-than-lightweight wheels that the Bianchi Infinito CV can blame for its heavyweight status.
Our test bike came fully kitted out with the next generation, 11-speed version of the Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset. Shifting was as flawless as we’ve come to expect from Ultegra Di2, even when the drivetrain was under heavy loads, and the new multishift function is a welcome addition that will have your chain skipping happily down the block whenever the road ramps upwards.
But if you’d prefer to stay away from electronic, the rim brake version of the Bianchi Infinito CV comes with a greater choice of mechanical groupsets, from Shimano Ultegra and Dura-Ace, to Campagnolo Athena, Chorus, right up to the £5400 Super Record version.
The wheels, a pair of snappily-titled Shimano WH-RX830s, are disc-specific and another piece of first generation kit from the Japanese company. These new clinchers use Shimano’s OptBal 2:1 technology, meaning twice the number of spokes on the drivetrain side of the rear wheel, apparently improving rigidity and durability, and should roughly slot in at Ultegra level.
The wheels were certainly solid all-rounders, coping well with the rough surfaces we through at them while testing the Bianchi’s CounterVail technology. When really opening the taps there was a little bit of flex which was made more noticeable by the way it made the rotors tap against the brake pads, but this was no worse than most mid-level wheelsets.
These solid wheels are topped with Vittoria Rubino Pro Slick tyres, which although a good budget option for summer rides on good roads, are not really the right choice for a bike designed to be ridden in bad conditions, and we were forced to change tyres after only four rides in the Surrey lanes.
Finally one last very small detail that we found wanting on the Bianchi Infinito was the bottle cage bolts, which were, awkwardly, torx bolts, and have come close to rounding out after only being screwed and unscrewed a handful of times.
For more information visit the Bianchi website.
The highlight of the Bianchi Infinito CV Disc is the simply incredible frame which does a superb job of floating over rough British roads and helping us eat up the miles. The hydraulic brakes and Ultegra Di2 components also perform well, combine to make what is a very heavy bike for the £5600 price-tag.